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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 12th, 2010, 08:01 am
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Default Controlled and Uncontrolled Classroom Activity/Game

Greetings!

My name is Prax Cortez. I’m a new member to this Site and new to EFL teaching. I need help with “controlled” and “uncontrolled” classroom EFL activities/games/tests. How do we define/describe “controlled” and “uncontrolled” classroom activities? Can we have examples of these controlled and uncontrolled things, one each for an activity, a game, and a quiz for a very small group of engineers learning English for Special Purposes with Grammar or Language Functions as topic? Your example could be for all levels and for general topic.

Thanks for your help.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 12th, 2010, 09:46 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: Controlled and Uncontrolled Classroom Activity/Game

I've never taught engineers (and it depends on what type of engineers they are), but I'll try and give some general examples which might be applicable to an intermediate group.

In a controlled practice activity, what the S has to produce (say) is 100% predictable and 100% confined to the target language (what the teacher wants to practice) - there's no room for choice. So for example : let's say the teacher wants to practice numbers. She gives the Ss a picture of a bridge with the length etc marked and asks questions : How long is the bridge? How wide is the bridge? How many cables are there? etc The Ss answer 15,000 metres /30 metres / 250 etc. They are only saying the numbers (the target language) and nothing else - there's nothing else to say. So : 100% confined to the TL and 100% predictable.

This can be made more communicative (but still 100% controlled) by dividing the info into two tables an pairing the students. Student A has ...

How long is the bridge? 15,000 metres
How wide is the bridge? ------------------
How many cables are there? 250
How many pylons are there? --------------
etc

Student B has ...

How long is the bridge? -----------
How wide is the bridge? 30m
How many cables are there? --------
How many pylons are there? 600
etc

In pairs the ss ask and answer the questions. Obviously they have to ask about the info they don't have, listen to their partner's answer and write it down. Notice that here they don't have to think of the questions - they're given. So although they have to say the questions, they don't have to formulate them. The only language they have to focus on formulating is the numbers.

In a freer practice activity the language would still bring up the target language in continuation, but the students would have to incorporate it with other language and exactly what they said would not be 100% predictable. Eg :

Student A has info on the Vasco da Gama bridge, expressed as concisely as possible - eg : Length = 16,200m. Student B has parallel info on the Golden Gate Bridge. They are asked to decide which bridge is the longest/widest, has the most cables etc. Now, to do this the students must use the numbers (the target language), but they'll need to surround them with other language. But exactly what they say is up to them. So : they could ask questions : How long is the V da G bridge? / It's 16,200 metres but they could equally well choose to say : My bridge is 16,200 metres. What about yours?

Obviously, the CP activities are much easier than the FP activities. That's why it's important to use them at the beginning of the lesson, after the T has modelled and explained the target language, but before the students are asked to use the TL in FP.

Even with CP there can be gradations of difficulty. So - the easiest CP activity is simply repetition. Here the T might hold up a flashcard with a number, say it and ask the Ss to repeat it. The activity with the labelled picture of a bridge and the teacher questioning might come next - the students now have to formulate the nos. for themselves, but that's all. Then the first pairwork activity. Now the students not only have to formulate the numbers which they say, but also listen and understand their partner's replies in order to write the numbers down. And the most difficult of all is the FP activity I described, where the students have to understand what their partner says, and think of what they themselves want to sayin reply and how to say it, all in real time.

So the lesson moves gradually through simple to more complex activities, and as the Ss become more confident with the numbers they are asked to use them in increasingly complex activities - activities which, if used at the beginning of the lesson without this gradual preparation, would be far too difficult.

Hope that helps. If you'd like the titles of a couple of books that explain things in more detail and would give you more examples, send me a PM.
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Unread Mar 12th, 2010, 05:33 pm
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Default Re: Controlled and Uncontrolled Classroom Activity/Game

Here are some things about speaking activities. One kind of controlled speaking activity is a dialog. The students receive a script, and that is what they practice. I use dialogs this way very often. My students may get 3 or 4 different dialogs in a week, never more than one per class meeting. You might research the Golden Gate Bridge (I am sure you will find information on the internet). Then you could write a dialog in which two people discuss the bridge. I believe that students should start with simpler dialogs and gradually move up to ones that are longer and longer, and more and more complex. I like to limit the grammar structures in a dialog to not more than two (one is better), and only use grammar structures that the students know. At the other end of the spectrum are free speaking activities that have no script. An example: you give the students a topic to discuss (but no questions - they must think of their own).
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Unread Mar 13th, 2010, 03:22 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: Controlled and Uncontrolled Classroom Activity/Game

In a PM Prax asked me to talk about semi-controlled activities too.

Prax is right - between the CP and FP activities which I described, there's too great a jump in difficulty. There's needs to be another, semi-controlled, activity in the middle. Semi-controlled practice (SCP) is a sort of half-way house. The TL comes up in continuation, as before, and but there's other language involved which is more or less but not exactly predictable - some variety is possible. For example , the following "Find Someone who ..." activity would fit into the sequence above after the pairwork question/answer activity.

The students have a sheet of paper which says ..

Find someone who knows ...

- the length of the longest bridge in the world
- the number of pylons which (name a local bridge) has
- the number of bridges in Venice
etc
etc

The Ss stand up and circulate, asking the questions to everyone until they find a person that can give them the information. (Once they find the answer they write it down and stop asking that question but go on with the others) If you don't think that anyone will know, you can give each student a slip of paper with one or two bits of information on it - eg Venice has 409 bridges - so that all the answers will eventually emerge.

Notice that SCP and FP activities depend on Ss being able to use the "other language" that surrounds the TL - as I said before this is a sequence intended for intermediate learners. It's always worth checking that they can use this language before starting the activity - here you might give out the sheet and ask what questions they're going to ask. At this level they may come out with alternatives : What's the length of ...? Do you know the length of ... ? Can you tell me the length of ... ? How long is ...? It's this potential variety that makes this activity only semi-controlled.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 13th, 2010, 11:13 pm
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Smile Re: Controlled and Uncontrolled Classroom Activity/Game

Hi Sue,

Thanks for your help. Your discussion and examples saved me from too much time and efforts surfing the Net and get what I want. Now I know how to develop controlled, semi-controlled and free class activities for efl/esl classes. Thanks also for the suggested books on the subject.

I really appreciate.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 13th, 2010, 11:21 pm
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Default Re: Controlled and Uncontrolled Classroom Activity/Game

Quote:
Quote bread_baker View Post
Here are some things about speaking activities. One kind of controlled speaking activity is a dialog. The students receive a script, and that is what they practice. I use dialogs this way very often. My students may get 3 or 4 different dialogs in a week, never more than one per class meeting. You might research the Golden Gate Bridge (I am sure you will find information on the internet). Then you could write a dialog in which two people discuss the bridge. I believe that students should start with simpler dialogs and gradually move up to ones that are longer and longer, and more and more complex. I like to limit the grammar structures in a dialog to not more than two (one is better), and only use grammar structures that the students know. At the other end of the spectrum are free speaking activities that have no script. An example: you give the students a topic to discuss (but no questions - they must think of their own).

Hi bread_baker,

Thanks for the above speaking activities you suggested. I think I can even come up with a written version from it.
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Unread Mar 14th, 2010, 03:16 pm
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Default Re: Controlled and Uncontrolled Classroom Activity/Game

Hi Prax,
You're welcome.
When I write a dialog, here are some things I do. I use 2 character names that are easy for the students to prounce. These names I type with boldface. I also double space between when one character stops speaking and the other starts. These things make the dialog easier for the students.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Aug 13th, 2010, 05:48 pm
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Default Re: Controlled and Uncontrolled Classroom Activity/Game

Hi Prax,
How did things go? Did you write any dialogs? One more thing. I always use character names. I never just put A and B for the parts. I also always put the character names in boldface.
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